Technology moves fast, but the United States government isn’t exactly as quick. Microsoft had originally filed a patent for the Windows 8 start screen in September 2011 (there was some initial confusion at the time on what it meant). The first release of Windows 8 was on October 25, 2012, so in essence, the patent was filled over a year before the operating system appeared on the market.
The design patent itself has just been approved with a stamped date of January 28 2014 – over two years after it was submitted for approval.
The original patent is four pages in length and is entitled as a “Display Screen with graphical user interface” – patent number US D698, 359 S. The inventor of the design is noted as Ethan Nelson Ray, a User Interface developer who had worked for Microsoft at the time, but now works as a Senior UX Designer at Google.
The claim of the design patent is for “a display screen with graphical user interface, as shown and described”. One of the images shows what appears to be a low resolution and black and white Start Screen. The tiles themselves are not shown and inside are replaced with white rectangles.
While, the image itself (shown above) may make the fundamentally important concept behind the patent seem anticlimactic, it means one thing – Microsoft now officially owns the design rights to Windows 8.
Design patents within the United States are one of the many types of patents available to those who are trying to protect their work. Specifically, design patents are a method of protecting industrial design intellectual properties. A famous example of these patents at work could be seen in the now dated Apple vs. Samsung trials that argued over the Touch Wiz interface used by the Korean based company.
The government may be slow at getting design patents approved, but the designers at Microsoft can now sleep a bit more sound at night knowing that their beloved Windows 8 UI is safe and sound.